Monday, September 22, 2008

The Age of Snarkery II

The Age of Snarkery II
“Many things in the world have
not been named; and many things,
even if they have been named,
have never been described.”
—Susan Sontag, “Notes On "Camp"

The Age of Snarkery?

If Edith Wharton or Henry James were alive today—but then of course they aren’t.

But if their Snark sensibility were alive today—what kind of Novel would they write for this latest most decadent Gilded Age we’re living in?

Decadence is nothing new—Houses of Mirth rise and fall.

Ages of Innocence are nothing new—they come and go.

The Age of Snarkery—can the Novel form still do it?

The Blogosphere—the Snarkosphere.

So much has changed since James and Wharton.

And yet does their Snarkette sensibility still survive?

Is there still time for Snarkfest festivities and gaiety?

Or are we all Snarkbait—hors-d’oeuvres for the Snarkpit?

To snark a sensibility in words, especially one that is alive and powerful—one must be transgressive and fragmentary.

This form of snarkalicious notes, rather than an essay (with its claim to a linear, consecutive argument), seems more appropriate for discussing Snarkery and Literary Criticism.

It's embarrassing to be solemn and treatise-like about Snarkery.

One runs the risk of opening oneself up to being “snark bait,” i.e., being vulnerable to Snarkette criticism.

And there’s nothing worse than that…

The Snarkosphere will undoubtedly move beyond Snarkology 101—into more rarified literary realms like Snark Lit Crit and Stark Poetics.

Snarkblogs and Snarkpit Film Crit also show promise of great Snarkfest possibilities.

But what about now—this delicate time of snarkenfreude?

Snarkery is a sensibility—unmistakably postmodern, a variant of Camp but much more cynical.

Snarkery is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Snarkery, in particular, has never been discussed much until lately.

Snarkery is like Gossip—it’s a natural mode of dishing people, usually behind their back.

Indeed the essence of Snarkery is its love of Gossip: Dirt, Dishing, Reading Beads, Innuendo, Trashing, etc. make up a spectrum sensibility within The Snarkosphere.

The Snarkosphere broke into American print during the Gilded Age—with such snarky exposés as Upton Sinclair’s Jungle and Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth.

Snarking Chicago cattle-yards is one thing—but surely to snark a decadent Gilded Age in all its exquisite Innocence, surely, that’s a completely different proposition?

Edith Wharton doesn’t seem to write and publish for self-edification—or to show off her modernist sensibility.

Wharton seems strongly drawn to Snarkery, and yet almost as strongly offended by it at the same time.

That’s why Snarkery is difficult to talk about.

For no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyze it.

They can only, whatever their intention, snark it indirectly.

Novels are ways of snarking things—just like people do.

Each generation is Gilded—each generation lives in a Gilded Age.

But some Ages are more Snarky than others and that Age is now.

But then every Age is now, hmmm?

Each age is an Emperor in New Clothes—but don’t tell.

Don’t ask and don’t tell—whatever you do.

A snarky Ministry of Fear—silences of all.

Except for a few snarky Novelists like Wharton and James.

What would these two snide snarky snarklepuss snarklett snarkling snarkmooglie snarkolepsy authors say today?

“Don’t ask don’t tell?”

Of course, everyone knows this is impossible.

To discuss Snarkery—is to not discuss it.

Not directly anyway—but rather thru Fiction.

Snarkmeister writers like Wharton and James sketch the snarky contours of a decadent age and recount the snarky history of its rise and fall—indirectly thru tableaux vivant.

Tableaux vivant is a story within a story.

Like Gide’s The Counterfeiters—a snarky Journal embedded in a snarky Novel.

Such snarky mise-en-abyme slight-of-hands distance one story from the other—it saves time, money, energy and avoids the usual revulsion associated with “pressing the flesh” of those we despise, especially ourselves.

Snarkmeister authors like Wharton (House of Mirth), Shakespeare (Hamlet), West (The Day of the Locusts), Genet (Thief’s Journal), Gide (The Counterfeiters), Greene (The Ministry of Fear)—they all have used this snarky technique quite successfully down thru time.

Then, of course, there’s snarky killjoy Brecht who uses the technique to constantly and rudely jar the Audience with mise-en-abyme as a rude “distancing-effect”—such a tacky thing to do.

But then isn’t that what all Snarkette authoresses do?

They insert the dystopian dagger—twist it with a smile?

They lull the readers/audience into a lullaby swoon that merges two storylines seamlessly?

The two storylines being—you and me?

Snarkery is tableaux vivant—a story within a story.

It’s a mode of aestheticism—one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. (Yawn…)

Snark isn’t a spectrum—it’s more like a smorgasbord.

Hors-d’oeuvres may start with snark light (tackiness) and then progress thru a vast menu of gourmet delights: smarminess, ugliness, vulgarity, greed, shamelessness, coquettery, blackmail, dishing, bead-reading, etc..

Is there a Snark vision? A school or canon or genre or systemization for Snarkery?

Hardly, my dears. We’re flying by the seat of our pants.

We snark for ourselves—and strangers. (a la Stein)

Start using Urban Dictionary online.

It’s a good start for defining The Snarkosphere.

These words include: snark, snarkabratory, snarkalec, snarkalicious, Snarkanism, snarkasm, snarkastic, Snarkbait, snarkblog, Snarkdook, snarkel, snarkenfreude, snarker, snarkery, snarketing, snarkey, Snarkfest, snarkhole, snarky, snarkily, snarkin, snarking, snarking out, snarkinZ, snarkity, snarkle, snarklepuss, snarklett, snarkling, snarkmooglie, snarkolepsy, Snarkoleptic, Snarkology 101, snarkosaurus, Snarkpit, snarktastic, Snarktax, snarky, snarky-da.

The List will grow—that’s how language works.

I shan’t snark anything more for now…

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